Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Passports - The Last Battle

And we won it. We've regained everything that was lost, and gained something new - recognition of our actual sex on our passports.

From the Sydney Star Observer :
The Rudd Government has reinstated gender-neutral identity documents and passports to help transgender people travelling overseas for surgery.

The decision follows an Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruling last year that transgender married couples were entitled to be issued new passports with their correct gender and existing marital status.

The policy review recommended those applications by people who are legally married and in a same-sex relationship should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“Since the AAT decision, five passports have been issued to married sex- and gender-diverse persons,” the Department of Foreign Affairs stated in response to Senate questions.
And at least one before - mine.
A new limited-validity passport will be available to applicants who wish to travel overseas for gender re-assignment surgery.
This isn't so much new, as restoral of a right enshrined in legislation, but which was summarily withdrawn at Ministerial whim. Out of pique at the way TS people had had so many wins in the courts. Supposedly it was an anti-terrorism measure, though the exact logic of that was never explained, especially since the USA never stopped issuing such 1-year validity passports for this purpose.
Transgender people who have not legally changed genders will also be allowed to apply for an internationally-recognised document of identity (DOI) with the gender field left blank.
Well.. internationally recognised by some nations. Not others. It's not good for travel to the USA for example. And most importantly, neither does it guarantee right of return.
Applicants who wish to travel overseas for gender reassignment surgery may be eligible for a limited-validity passport in their intended gender.
As the legislation always provided for.
Gender Centre spokeswoman Katherine Cummings said gender-neutral documentation wasn’t quite good enough because it draws attention to the traveller. She said the Gender Centre was not consulted when the re-introduced documents were first removed under former foreign minister Alexander Downer, nor were they consulted as part of the recent review.
No, and it wasn't through lack of trying on our part. We repeatedly requested dialogue, but they weren't interested. So we had to fight for everything via the Courts.

A war that should never have been fought is now over. And... we've won. And maybe, just maybe, the transphobia that infected the Australian Passport Office is now a thing of the past. I hope so.

But if we have to go through all this pain and nausea again when the Government changes, we will. And corporate memory is strong - they know just how indomitable we can be, never giving up, never giving in, and with the demonstrated ability to prove our case in courts. Perhaps they may be deterred in future. Time will tell.

I hope it's not necessary.


Anonymous said...

not that its related, but i notice that peter wherrett died of cancer recently.

its curious that the abc just talked about his life as a motoring journalist, while one of the larger OZ papers made a point of saying he started cross dressing at 12, and lives the last years of his life as a women

din ohtar

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a hard won and well deserved victory.
Certainly, you can't take progress for granted and it's always best to be realistic, but for your own sake, please don't catastrophise about future problems that don't currently exist.

Take the win and be happy and proud.